With this years’ National Apprenticeship Week theme being “skills for life”, I have caught up with some of our apprentices to find out how the programme has helped to develop skills in the workplace.
I met with Jack Boulton and Lizzie Clarke, who are both apprentices at Willsons Property. The company has 2 offices in Skegness and Alford, dealing with all aspects of the property market, from buying and selling, renting and letting to land and new homes and property management.
Jack is currently in his final year of his Chartered Surveyor (Rural) apprenticeship and is working hard on finishing the final assignments and dissertation for the BSc (Honours) Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree. Lizzie is in her first year of the same course, so will benefit from Jack’s experience!
Jack became a director of Willsons Property in March 2021 and works alongside his father in running the practice. He worked in farming for a few years before joining the company and felt he wanted a job with more regular hours, so started to work at Willsons Property. He started the apprenticeship soon after and has progressed in his apprenticeship and job role.
Lizzie joined the company last year, initially as admin support. Jack explained that Lizzie had approached them about working as an estate agent however, there were no current vacancies. They offered her the admin role, which meant she was able to gain understanding of the wide range of services offered at Willsons, and also to see the scope of the chartered surveyor role. Lizzie did not have a career plan at that time; she knew she wanted to work within the agricultural sector but not sure of which route. Jack enquired at the university to see if there were any spaces left on the course and then spoke to Lizzie about the joining the apprenticeship. Lizzie felt this was an opportunity not to be missed and applied to join the course. She knew of Harper Adams University through its reputation; some of her family attended and she also knew that Jack was doing his apprenticeship at the university. A few months on, Lizzie has attended 5 block weeks on campus and is enjoying the student experience during the weeks she is here! Lizzie said they are able to attend different activities while on campus and during welcome week, apprentices joined in with some of the activities. Lizzie said that they tend to socialise a little – but the focus is on learning while on campus. They are able to access the library and other support services online during the rest of the year, but having the option to speak to lecturers in person and use other facilities on offer is very useful.
Jack said that a key benefit of doing the apprenticeship is the contacts and knowledge gained; he said that others in the group are working for a range of companies that specialise in different areas. While on campus, he is able to ask advice from others on the course and also discuss real-life examples in the classroom with lecturers. Building a network of colleagues is invaluable within the industry and the apprenticeship has given the opportunity gain new contacts and increase his knowledge of different elements within the chartered surveying role.
Lizzie said the lecturers treat you like a business person, so this helps in developing communication skills. She said the support Jack is able to provide is helping a great deal too – as he knows how the assignments should be structured, he can proof-read any work and then advise on amendments or changes.
Jack said he is able to help Lizzie with planning off the job training around the modules being studied. At the moment, Lizzie is working towards her Crop Production assignment. This is something unfamiliar to her, so Jack has been able to arrange work shadowing and to spend time with an agronomist. Lizzie said this has helped a great deal and she can relate learning in the classroom to real examples.
As Jack takes on more responsibility as a director, he continues to develop wider skills in managing people and dealing with a range of issues alongside his work as a chartered surveyor and studying. He is now looking forward to graduating later this year. He has enjoyed his time at university and working as an apprentice, but after 5 years, is looking forward to finishing!
Lizzie is confident she has chosen the right career path and is looking forward to learning more about the role of a rural surveyor. She is already assisting with preparing for auctions, preparing brochures, carrying out valuations and looking into compensation claims for farmers. Over the next few years, she will be developing her knowledge of the role, gaining new skills and developing her own network of contacts.
If you would like to start your own journey towards being a rural chartered surveyor, or an employer looking to recruit new talent into your business, get in touch.